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Happy Lunar New Year, my dear readers. This is the time of the year where Chinese people around the world will be busy spring cleaning their houses and rid of useless objects, grocery shopping for supplies and the essential reunion dinner before or on the eve of first day of the Lunar New Year. One quintessential Lunar New Year dish served during the reunion dinner is the Yusheng (鱼生). I have previously made a vegetarian yusheng, while this recipe is a widely popular Abalone Yusheng.
New Moon has kindly gifted me with their Royale Braised Abalone which has the perfect size and taste for this Abalone Yusheng recipe. These South African abalones and braised and bouble-boiled infused with scallop. You can see the scallop strips in the braised sauce. I used the sauce to book bee hoon and got thumbs up from my family at our New Year dinner! These abalones are hand-harvested sustainably, it comes with a firm texture and are ready to eat. You can even cook abalone porridge, check out my 15-minute abalone congee recipe.
What is Lou Hei Yusheng 捞鱼生?
According to Chinese traditions, Yusheng is traditionally served on the 7th day of the Lunar New Year. These days, due to commercial reasons, many Chinese restaurants serve this festive dish throughout the entire 15 days of the Chinese New Year and even up to a week before. During this time of the year, it’s hard to book a table in a good restaurant unless you make the booking way in advance.
This festive Chinese dish is a typical Chinese New Year dish that is more popular outside of China, and the first dish that is served during family reunion dinners, company luncheons and dinners and friends’ gatherings. It is a beautiful and usually colourful palette of fresh vegetables (many people added fruits these days) with abalone pieces as the centrepiece. The abalone yusheng is then drizzled with seasoning sauces, and added some savoury crackers. While doing so, diners will recite meaningful auspicious words, before all the diners start tossing the yusheng with their chopsticks as high as possible while shouting ‘huat ah’ (发啊！meaning we will prosper).
Why do we Lou Hei Yusheng 捞鱼生 during the Lunar New Year?
‘Yusheng’ is a Chinese noun that means ‘raw fish’, another interpretation is the ‘rise of excess’ and the Chinese like to relate this excess to the surplus in all things good, which can be long life, love, fortune, luck, wisdom, and health. While ‘lou hei’ is a Cantonese verb that literally means ‘to bring something up’ ‘to toss’.
Lou hei signifies the tossing of fortune and prosperity, thus the higher you toss, the more fortune will come your way for the rest of the year. You will notice at the Chinese dining table, diners will all stand up and use their chopsticks to toss the Yusheng, while shouting ‘huat ah’, meaning ‘let’s all prosper’ in Hokkien.
A Step-By-Step Guide on the Auspicious Phrases to Recite for the Lou Hei Abalone Yusheng
Here are the 8 steps while having the Abalone Yusheng and the auspicious phrases to say for each ingredient.
1) Main plate
We will serve the main yusheng with the seasonings and condiments on the side. Say these 4-5 phrases loudly and happily:
- 祝大家 /zhù dà jiā/ – Wishing everyone
- 新年快乐 /xīn nián kuài lè/ – Happy New Year
- 风生水起 /fēng shēng shuǐ qǐ/ – Success in all things you do
- 幸福安康 /xìngfú ān kāng/ – Happy and healthy
- 生意兴隆 /shēng yì xīng lóng/ May your business flourish with great growth and profits
2) Abalone (whole or slices)
Add in the whole abalone or abalone slices all over the dish while reciting:
- 年年有余 /nián nián yǒu yú/ – Abundance of wealth, luck, and everything else throughout the whole year
- 步步高升 /bù bù gāo shēng/ – Growth in business and promotion at work
- 花开富贵 – /huā kāi fù guì/ – When the flowers bloom, riches and honours follow
3) Yuzu honey
Add in the yuzu honey over the yusheng while reciting:
- 甜甜蜜蜜 /tián tián mì mì/ – Sweet and loving relationship
- 鸿运当头 /hóng yùn dāng tóu/ – Great luck throughout the year
4) Extra virgin olive oil
While adding in the olive oil, recite:
- 财源滚滚 /cái yuán gǔn gǔn/ – Many sources of income flows in
- 一本万利 /yī běn wàn lì/ – Tremendous growth of profits by ten thousand folds
5) Salt and pepper
Sprinkle salt and pepper generously all over the plate, while reciting:
- 金玉满堂 /jīn yù mǎn táng/ – Full of gold and jade, and very precious things
- 招财进宝 /zhāo cái jìn bǎo/ – Wealth and fortune will roll into your house
6) Lemon juice
Squeeze fresh lemon juice on the dish, while reciting:
- 大吉大利 /dà jí dà lì/ – Great prosperity, fortune, and good luck in all things you do
- 青春永驻 /qīng chūn yǒng zhù/ – You will be always youthful
7) Pistachio nuts and prawn crackers
Sprinkle generous amount of pistachio nuts and prawn crackers, and recite:
- 遍地黄金 /biàn dì huáng jīn/ – Find gold everywhere you go, meaning you will have great wealth in all things you do
- 金银满屋 /jīn yín mǎn wū/ – A house full of gold and silver
8) Toss the Yu Sheng
Now it’s the time for everyone to pick up the chopsticks and toss the Yu Sheng. This action is the actual Lou Hei. While you toss the ingredients on the plate, say anything that is auspicious loudly and excitingly. It’s believed that the louder you recite, the more prosperous you will be. And the higher you toss, the more wealth, luck and prosperity you will get.
- 发啊 /huat ah/ – Let’s all prosper!
Watch how to make Abalone Yusheng on YouTube
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Abalone Yusheng For Chinese New Year Lou Hei 富贵花开 鱼生鲍鱼
- 1 can abalones (braised or brine) net weight 425g, drained weight 90g
- 1 radish washed
- 1 purple radish washed
- 2-3 carrots washed
- 1-2 Japanese cucumbers washed
- 1 raw mango washed
- ½ cup pistachios deshelled
- ½ cup prawn crackers optional
- 3 tbsp yuzu honey
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch of salt season to taste
- Pinch of black pepper season to taste
- ¼ lemon
- 1 red pomelo small sized
- 3-4 dried edible flowers optional
- Prepare the ingredients: wash and peel all the vegetables and fruits.Cut cucumbers, radish, purple radish and carrots into shorter chunks (if you are using the spiralizer machine.For the mango, used a julienne peeler to shred.For the red pomelo, remove the pulp and break into smaller chunks.1 radish, 1 purple radish, 2-3 carrots, 1-2 Japanese cucumbers, 1 raw mango, 1 red pomelo
- Shred cucumbers, radish, purple radish and carrots into thin strips using a vegetable spiralizer or manually with a vegetable shredder.Note: I used a vegetable spiralizer machine. Alternatively you can use a julienne peeler.
- Remove abalones from the can and set aside.Note: Reserve the braised sauces in the can or the brine for other cooking. These sauces are full of flavours.1 can abalones (braised or brine)
- Optional to add prawn crackers. Break into smaller chunks.1/2 cup prawn crackers
- Chop the deshelled pistachios.1/2 cup pistachios
- Add the yuzu honey, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper into individual bowls, to serve with the yusheng later. Cut the lemon into quarters.3 tbsp yuzu honey, 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, Pinch of salt, Pinch of black pepper, 1/4 lemon
- Assemble the yusheng on a nice large plate.
- Optional to add a finishing touch to the yusheng with dried edible flowers.3-4 dried edible flowers
- Chill in the fridge, covered with cling wrap until ready to serve. Serve with the condiments. See above post on the auspicious Chinese phrases to recite.